The volleyball story that took me 17 years to write

Photo by Scott Mulford

A step back in time… It was November 1997 and the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots volleyball team was in a five game thriller with South Glens Falls for the Section 2 Class C title at Skidmore College. BPHS senior Jamie Brownell has the ball in her hands preparing to serve. The whistle sounds and there is silence. Brownell’s serve barely crosses over the net. It’s touched by two South High players, catches in the net, then falls to the floor. The people in the stands pour on to the court in celebration. The Lady Patriots had won their fourth straight sectional title game.

Back in 1997, I was writing sports for a weekly newspaper called The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley. The morning after the final at Skidmore College, I started writing the story when my editor called me into the office and said the he was shutting down the paper and there would not be a next issue. That’s when the story stopped. So, seventeen years later I finally got the chance to write a story for the BPHS volleyball program. I was happy to see all the people who turned out to support the teams.

Years ago it wasn’t easy getting people to cheer at a volleyball game. I remember two weeks before the 1997 final, the Lady Patriots were in a tough match with Cobleskill-Richmondville for the then Tri Valley League title. BPHS had won the first two games, but lost game three. The gym was way too quiet and I remember saying “The people in this gym need to get behind this team. It needs to get nice and loud.” Sitting next to me at the top row of the bleachers was a girl on the varsity soccer team, Lisa Tripepi, and she heard what I said. Lisa started talking with some of the football players and then came back to me and said “This gym will get nice and loud but you have to promise to put the football team on the cover of the paper.” I told her I would (and did, twice).

As the volleyball team took the floor after the break, everyone stood up and applauded. The referee didn’t even try to blow his whistle, he just let them go. The team would go on to win that match and finish unbeaten in the league. After the sectional final I spoke with Jamie Brownell, who served the final point and I remember her saying to me, “We really believed that we could win, and we did.” The 2014 team believes it too, and now has a chance to take it one step further.

After Saturday’s match, I asked Mike Calvello, who coached both the 1997 and 2014 teams, to compare the two teams.

“Both teams have good players,” Calvello said. “Amy (Legendziewicz) was dominant. She was the go to girl. We had girls who could hit. This team is a little more well rounded with more options and you can’t focus on one person. I’d say the two teams were pretty even.”

The match statistics certainly showed a well balanced Lady Patriots team. Fariello, Ryder, and Marshall all had more then ten digs. Smith had 25 assists. Ryder also had 12 service points and five aces. LeBlanc. Adamchick, Ryder, Simonsen, and Marshall all recorded kills.

“We’re pretty balanced,” said Coach Calvello. “I’m just so happy for them. They worked so hard since the season started in July with the Summer league. That’s always the goal, you want to get the sectional title and play into November. They’ve worked so hard.”

The 1997 Section 2 Class C Champions were; Jamie Brownell, Amy Legendziewicz, Julie Christopher, Amelia Andrzejewski, Jessica Sawyer, Shawna Sheckton, Crystal Zanella, Erin Bartosik, Katie Healey, Michele Womer, and Callie Hayes.

The 2014 Section 2 Class C Champions are; Chelsea LeBlanc, Keyana Fariello, Lauren Adamchick, Nicole Traver, Megan Ryder, Gabby Smith, Zoe Simonson, Carly Sheffer, and Jordan Marshall.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.